Jeffrey Epstein was Davos on Steroids

So, the Wall Street Journal has produced two more brilliant Epstein scoops (here and here) that shed further light on my story last week about Epstein’s role as an elite global concierge.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to speculate that someone with access to the discovery in the civil suits filed by the US Virgin Islands and Jane Doe against JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank is sharing documents with the paper. That would explain why the Journal has cited the content of previously unseen emails and snippets of Epstein’s calendar in years post his 2008 conviction as a sex offender.

Turns out that in Epstein’s “pretend penitent era” for want of a better description (he told everyone that the 17-year-old he “solicited” had not told him her true age) his home was like a sort of Davos on steroids.

The list of US VIPs he held meetings with gets longer by the minute. Venture capitalist Reid Hoffman flew with him to his Island. The CIA director William “Bill” Burns met with Epstein when he was the deputy secretary of state in 2014 and, reportedly, he thought Epstein was just a rich guy.

“The director did not know anything about him, other than that he was introduced as an expert in the financial services sector and offered general advice on transition to the private sector,” a CIA spokesperson said. (I cannot be the only person marveling at the apparent porousness of our State Department, and the lack of basic background information supplied to the guy now in charge of the CIA).

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Jeffrey Epstein’s Elite Concierge Service

At this point, there’s little breaking news on Jeffrey Epstein that shocks me. I never imagined that 20 years after I had the worst reporting experience of my career, dealing with him, that the questions I found impossible to solve at the time, would not only still be questions – but questions of international interest.

Friday, I was shocked. The Wall Street Journal broke a completely fascinating story about how JP Morgan bankers kept visiting Epstein for years after it closed its accounts with him in 2013. (They’d woken up to the extraordinary fact he withdrew over $750,000 a year in cash. In lump sums of $80,000).

There’s one paragraph in particular in the story that is worth dwelling on:

JPMorgan employees continued meeting with Epstein after his accounts were closed about other clients and to discuss introductions he could make to potential clients, according to people familiar with the meetings.

Think about that. In 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, if the WSJ has its timeline right, Epstein was considered someone of such important connectivity inside the world’s plutocracy that JP Morgan employees came crawling, regardless that he himself had been fired as a client. For whatever reason, he was a gateway to wealthy people who were otherwise unreachable. Or, at the very least, that’s how he sold himself. And, apparently, he was believable.

It’s this elite concierge aspect of Epstein that is just so intriguing. How the heck could Epstein, a college dropout, with no broker’s license, embed himself so completely in the lives of the uber-rich that they trusted him and not America’s biggest bank?

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates.

Even At JP Morgan They Wondered Who Jeffrey Epstein’s “Clients” Were

So, papers filed last week in the US Virgin Island’s suit against JPMorgan, alleging the bank knowingly benefitted from the sex-trafficking schemes of its former client Jeffrey Epstein, contains the charge that senior executives knew the seriousness of claims against Epstein as far back as 2006 – and banked him anyway. The amended suit claims that “senior executives joked about Epstein’s interest in young girls.” According to the complaint, in 2008 Mary Erdoes, CEO of JP Morgan Assets and Wealth Management, “received an email asking her whether Epstein was at an event ‘with miley cyrus.’” And, according to the suit, Erdoes also “admitted in her deposition that JPMorgan was aware by 2006 that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home.” JP Morgan has denied the charges. It stopped banking Epstein in 2013.

I’ve always maintained, that based on my reporting, Epstein’s sex trafficking was enabled by an entire eco-system of people, men mostly, who either invested with him, or attended his dinners, or took his money, or agreed to put his name on a building or institute – and in general legitimized him. And that it’s a travesty that the identities of these people are mostly still hidden in the shadows. Significantly, the list of names of high net-worth and high-profile individuals Epstein was allegedly helping woo to JP Morgan’s “Donor Advised Fund” is still not public.

Read the rest at Vicky Ward Investigates

Low Maintenance Melania?

There has been much speculation about the private wife of the outspoken husband. Melania didn’t travel with Donald Trump to his indictment, and he didn’t thank her in his post-arrest speech (despite thanking his five children, including their own son Barron who he described as “smart and tall”). She’s given no public statement on the indictment, not even one as vanilla as Ivanka’s. In fact, Melania’s first social media post since early March was a zoomed in stock photo of a pink rose, with the caption “Happy Easter!” A source told People Magazine (of which, one suspects, she might possibly be a reader) that she just wanted to be left alone, that her husband’s political events “aren’t comfortable for her” and “she remains angry and doesn’t want to hear [the alleged hush money payment] mentioned.”

Yet on Sunday, she was spotted having Easter brunch with Donald Trump behind velvet rope inside the Mar-A-Lago ballroom.

It’s not the first time Melania has seemingly yo-yoed around her husband. Some famous examples:

She slept through the 2020 Election night.

She delayed moving to the White House in 2016 as leverage for negotiating a post-nup.

She swatted Trump’s hand away when walking down the red carpet to greet Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

If you are confused, well perhaps what follows is helpful:

I looked up an old Q & A I did in 2013 with Trump, in his then office in Trump Tower in New York. His desk was overflowing with papers. The walls were crammed with photos of himself. He described the secret of the success of his marriage to Melania, which might be paraphrased as:

She doesn’t bother me. She doesn’t interrupt my golf game or ask me to have dinner with her. Men whose wives force them to do things like that end up dumping them. I recently golfed with a bonehead who actually left on the 9th hole because his wife phoned and asked him to come home. What an idiot! Particularly because he’s not a good golfer, and he was playing well…

If you are really interested, you can read it in full at Vicky Ward Investigates. Just don’t shoot the messenger.

Trump, The Ringmaster Returns

I thought I’d gotten my dates and countries confused.

First, there was the footage of the majestic plane, a Boeing 757 with a Rolls Royce engine, landing from its journey from West Palm Beach. The fleet of sleek black-guzzling SUVs surrounding it on the tarmac. The subsequent race into Manhattan, the closed-off streets, the crowd. The anticipation as one waited for a door to open and …

You might expect the figure emerging from the limo and waving to the crowds to be her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Instead, it’s our former POTUS, Donald Trump. But you already know that.

Try flipping the TV channel and you’ll be hard-pressed to go five minutes on cable news without feeling the sort of satiation and tense anticipation that normally precedes a Presidential Inauguration or a British Royal church ceremony. The last time I recall so much live coverage of someone on the move was when the Queen’s coffin was being transported from Westminster Abbey to her final burial at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. And the time before that was the police chase of OJ Simpson.

Read the rest at Vicky Ward Investigates

Who Does Donald Trump’s Indictment Help? Jared Kushner

You might have missed it, but Donald Trump was not the only very senior member of the Trump family to make headlines yesterday. Yes, Trump became the first American president to be indicted on criminal charges. But, in the midst of the brouhaha as that story broke, The New York Times published an important news story about Jared Kushner’s investments in the Middle East. Kushner, remember, is being investigated by Congress for the appearance of quid-pro-quo policy-making in the region while he was in the White House. (He has denied doing anything improper).

Yesterday, it was revealed that not only did Kushner receive investment from Saudi Arabia, after leaving the White House, but also from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Qatar, remember, is the state that was pressured by the Saudis and Emiratis in a blockade supported at first by the Trump White House – and then, around the same time that Jared’s dad, Charles, got bailed out of his financial difficulties…

Read the rest at Vicky Ward Investigates

Inside Michael Cohen’s U-Turn on Trump – and My First TikTok

Ok, so I thought it would be appropriate to record my first ever TikTok on the day the CEO testifies to Congress. It might also be my last, if the Biden Administration succeeds in getting it banned or sold.

Was it worth it? Not sure. It’s a fiddle. I am probably not doing it right, in that it offered me a plethora of asinine graphics to post around me, as well as music, which would have drowned out my words. (A plus or a minus depending on your POV). Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments section.

For those who don’t want to press PLAY, I was talking about former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen: the controversial star witness if Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg does indict Trump around l’affaire Stormy Daniels. (Pun intended).

I know Michael well. I spent many hours with him in 2017 and 2018.

So, I watched in real time as he moved positions from “I’d take a bullet” for Trump to pleading guilty to , among other things, his role in the campaign finance fraud in which Trump was the alleged instigator. I listened as Michael slowly began to realize that his former boss, “the big guy” was not going to do anything to protect Michael as the Feds closed in.

I was looking at my old notes and I’d forgotten a telling detail that Cohen told me in October 2018. About that “I’d take a bullet” quote.

Here’s the gist of what he said, per my notes:

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates

Tables are Truly Turned for Trump Ally Tom Barrack

It feels like a minute ago I was in the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse, bringing you regular dispatches from the trial of the billionaire financier, and longtime Trump friend, Tom Barrack.

In fact, it was only November. You can read my summation of what happened here.Barrack, 75, and his young aide Matthew Grimes were acquitted of all charges against them, in Barrack’s case alleging unregistered lobbying for the United Arab Emirates.

I wrote how, among other things, it was, in my humble opinion, Barrack’s masterclass on the witness stand that was most critical to his defense. (Alex Murdaugh, perhaps, should have taken notes). Barrack’s life-story, as he told it, softly and self-deprecatingly, was the narrative of his steep upward trajectory from the son of a grocer to a globe-trotting tycoon. It was the epitome of the American Dream. Or what used to be the American Dream, when kids still aspired to live in a home of their own, and drive their own cars. You could see in real time the jury’s growing admiration of him – and increasing boredom with the complexity of the crimes he’d been charged with that involved a foreign state they’d most likely never heard of.

Still, I wondered after his acquittal, what his future held. When you go through something like that, how impossible must it be, to slip back into old routines, old relationships. He had testified that he spent three weeks out of four traveling on his plane, wheeling and dealing. And now?

Read the rest at Vicky Ward Investigates

I Say To Dems: A Bragg Indictment Of Trump Does You No Favors

Vicky: Sam, So if Trump is arrested and indicted, as he says he’s going to be on Tuesday, what does it do for him with the G.O.P? What does it do for him in the polls?

Sam: From a political point of view, particularly in the G.O.P primary, there will be a sharp uptick in support for President Trump.

We’ve seen this when there was the raid on Mar-a-Lago, his numbers went up immediately, even during the January 6th committee hearings, and then eventually they fell down….So, right now, nationally, he probably has anywhere from a five to 12 point lead over DeSantis who is slowly flailing. And I suspect that it could go up as high, as high as 20 points, maybe even higher.

Now, the reason being is that the G.O.P. will find something like this, as opposed to last year’s civil suit, to be an egregious miscarriage of prosecutorial discretion by a liberal elite D.A. The underlying facts of the crime are ridiculous. No politician ever gets in trouble for this… But what I would say to all your listeners, many of them who don’t like Donald Trump, many of them who believe that Donald Trump is a threat to democracy, that Donald Trump could never go into the Oval Office, that Donald Trump committed many, many crimes: This DA Bragg has done you no favors with this indictment because it’s going to de-legitimize any other indictment coming down.

Read the rest of our conversation at Vicky Ward Investigates

The Final Stretch

Some of you have asked for more of a look into my world. What it’s like when potential stories rain on you, as they are this week. What do you do? Who do you call?

While I love the fact that “corruption” is an extremely broad category, encompassing international politics, finance, the law the culture… it’s tricky when there’s Epstein-related newsKushner-related newsBritish royal family newsHunter Biden-related newsTrump Investigation newsa market meltdown and campus culture war news – and it’s only Wednesday. It can be paralyzing. That’s why it’s so helpful to hear from you what topics you are interested in. I’m going to continue to poll you at the bottom of the page. And we are going to start some Q and A sessions going forward, where I get to hear more from you. And we have a dialogue. Please write in the comments section topics you’d like to address with me through a live chat session.

Today I want to mention the campus culture war news from Stanford Law school. You‘ll recall I did a series of deep dives about an event that got shut down at Yale Law School almost a year ago (here and here), so the fight over free speech at our top law schools is something I’m fascinated by. Why do law students at the top law schools in the country heckle visiting conservative speakers, this time a Trump-appointed Judge, to the point that they get accused of censorship and find themselves, I’d argue, on the wrong side of the mainstream narrative? They run the risk of looking primitive, when they are anything but. They are the brightest and the best in the country.

It’s a subject I’ve been researching for a deep-dive project that I’m not ready or at liberty to disclose yet. But what I can tell you, as I write this on March 16 is that for the second time in my career we are approaching deadline time for an Audible podcast series. I find myself thinking a lot about the spring of 2021 when we approached a deadline for Chasing Ghislaine – my first Audible podcast series. It was a huge learning curve. Not least because when you write for the ear you need to write in themes, as opposed to chronologically, which is what you mostly do for readers.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery of all was that the closer we neared to the end for Chasing Ghislaine, the more my colleagues insisted I rest! How unusually solicitous, you might be thinking! But they were governed by a very practical concern: my voice. It turns out that your voice really suffers if you are tired or de-hydrated. And just as if a movie star is late, ill or has a melt-down (see news reports of the new Jamie Fox/Cameron Diaz movie shoot in London) it halts production, so too, if a podcaster’s voice cracks, it wrecks the studio schedule. It’s a whole costly saga! And my voice did get tired one after during production for Chasing Ghislaine – annoyingly on a day after which I thought I’d got a good night’s sleep.

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates